Henry Fares, Vice President of Human Resources, DHL Express Middle East and North Africa
1. Tell us about your background?
Upon completion of my MBA degree I worked for 4 years in sales and marketing; yet, my continuous education focused on subjects such as organizational behaviour and industrial psychology. Observing successful professionals made me notice how clear they are about who they are and where they want to go with their careers and I decided to do the same and move to HR. I started at DHL in 2005 when I joined the team in Saudi Arabia as the Training and Development Manager. I later transferred to Bahrain, in April 2008, joining the DHL Aviation Middle East & Africa team in the role of Compensation and Benefits Manager for the region. Subsequently, just before my current role I assumed the position of HR director for that same business unit.
2. What company do you work for?
I work for DHL. Originally founded in 1969 to deliver documents between San Francisco and Honolulu, the company expanded its service throughout the world by the late 1970s. DHL Express has been a pioneer in the Middle East logistics industry since it became the first logistics operator in the region almost 40 years ago. Since then, its unparalleled regional and global expertise has led to remarkable success which mirrors the growth of the markets in which it operates.
Through its innovation, service excellence and commitment to providing superior logistics solutions, DHL offers a wide range of industry leading standardized and customized solutions, as well as consistent best-in-class service no matter where you are in the world. Today, DHL has a presence in 19 countries with over 4,500 dedicated employees across the Middle East and North Africa region.
The heart of DHL’s business is a consistent reliable global network, enabling delivery of its transit time promises to more than 220 countries across the globe, whether it is a shipment from Casablanca to Muscat, or an import shipment from Hong Kong to Saudi Arabia, DHL time definite and day definite services provide the ultimate and reliable shipping solutions. DHL is focused on growing its customers’ businesses and will do whatever it takes to meet and go beyond their express shipping needs, however big or small. The same is true for every DHL employee around the globe to ensure the same service standard wherever you conduct business with DHL.
3. What is the best HR strategy you have implemented?
One HR strategy, out of many, that remains at the top of my list and which I managed from design to implementation phase, was a comprehensive Employee Value Proposition (EVP) program.
EVP is important not only to attract employees but also to retain best talent. Traditionally EVP strategies have focused on areas such as compensation, growth and development, work environment and the job itself. Under these headlines/areas nest a wide range of facets of working life that provide value to employees.
People are key in a service industry business. In DHL, our true differentiator is our motivated people. Hiring and keeping the right people on the right seats is instrumental to our success. A successful EVP supports employee retention and engagement.
4. Can you take us step-by-step why it was a success?
EVP does not exist in isolation to the market. The health check of the EVP should be done through a comprehensive analysis of the direct and indirect competitors and other firms that your employees could opt to work for. Therefore, step one would be to understand the Employment Market from different dimensions such as compensation and benefits, work culture, diversity, job security and growth and development prospects to name a few.
A key component is the opportunity to grow internally. This led to a dual focus in our recruitment process where we looked beyond the skills required for the current role and focused on the right attitude and potential for growth. We have created a unique HR strategy that has consistently secured DHL the title of Employer of Choice across the world and this was achieved by delivering on our Employee Value Proposition.
Some of the key drivers of EVP include DHL’s Referral Program which leverages our employee network of relatives and friends to support our hiring process; our employees understand the company culture and are best placed to refer people that they believe will be a good match.
There are various practical aspects of starting a new role especially in a new country which can be overwhelming; DHL’s Onboarding Program ensures that the employee transition to the company is welcoming and the employee settles into the company, the team and the role as smoothly as possible, and equally important that they are absorbed in the DHL culture. The “Certified International Specialists” program defines how we can be the best we can be in order to live up to our customer promise. CIS enables us to certify all our employees as experts in International Express and creates a true differentiator with our competitors. The scope of this project is huge and could therefore only be achieved by breaking it down in sizeable projects from design and roll out in order to cover every position in every department.
5. What do you recommend our readers do with this strategy?
EVP is a great tool to satisfy your current employees and attract prospective recruits. Tailor your EVP to answer the specific needs, values, aspirations and preferences of your employees and company. Do not borrow someone else’s plan. Start by gaining detailed understanding of your company culture and employees’ needs and wants, conduct external market research to better understand the same and lastly, benchmark and put in place simple, tangible action plans.
At the end of the day, creating leaders is one of the most powerful features in motivating and retaining employees and for that reason we continuously invest in our people to develop and grow the 21st Century Manager.